Friday, May 04, 2007

Navel Gazing Meta Stuff+

I'm continually surprised at who is reading the blog, why they're reading, and what they get out of it. I'll therefore start this post out by explaining something that many of y'all already know:

The "Meta" in the post title indicates that I will be blogging about blogging. If I were to be blogging about blogging about blogging (as I guess I actually am doing at the moment), that would be meta-meta-blogging. For anyone who might quibble about redundancy, "Navel-Gazing" actually covers conceptually similar turf, but creates more specificity and connotes a particular (deprecating) connotation.

Okay. First observation: I did a post with "Stripper" in the title. That post spent all of yesterday as the most clicked upon headline in the national LeftyBlogs network of local blogs. That is the first time (that I'm aware of anyway) since my voting story that I've made the top 5. Redhorse once had a similar cynicism-inducing experience, when a piece he did about Dennis Kucinich garnering LeftyBlogs clicks rocketed up the LeftyBlogs chart. It won't be long before a site-traffic addict posts a story headlined: "Exotic Dancer Claims Evidence of Diebold Scheme to Steal Votes from Kucinich."

Next: I heard a rumor last week concerning someone I've written about. I was told it was strictly confidential and not widely known. Be that as it may, I got multiple hits last week from people who were doing Google Searches on the subject of said rumor. So, I'm saying two things right now: A) word seems to be spreading, obviously, so someone has been either successful or unsuccesful there, and B) Watching a rumor spread via web analytics is fascinating.

Also, I've finally started to get some evidence that some of my readers are, in fact, fellow Bexley residents. This is good, because I like to write about Bexley stories. In the most recent issue of ThisWeek Bexley, the most eye-catching story is about how Bexley's prom required submission to a Breathalyzer test before admission was granted. Students were warned on the day of the Prom, at lunchtime, about the Breathalyzer requirement. This was at least partly inspired by the situation at UA's Prom, where 125 kids were kicked out of their Prom due to evidence of alcohol use.

What's actually the better story to connect this to, though, is the release of the 2006 PPAAUS report (h/t Q.B.) on student behavior among Bexley Middle and High School students. People tend to glaze over when presented with numbers, but let me throw these out there: 48% of Juniors and Seniors reported using alcohol at parties. Another 31% reported consuming alcohol at some time in some other context. Given that Prom Night is apparently the context in which high-school drinking is most socially expected, it's not unreasonable to guess that approximately two hundred of the 320 Bexley prom-goers (62.5%) would have consumed alcohol that night without the increased prevention strategies. Of course, post-prom drinking most likely went on as planned. Anyway, there were apparently complaints about violations of civil liberties and all of that. Um, no. There was no requirement to attend the prom, and both the existence and methodology of the search were announced with enough forewarning to allow students to modify either their drinking or attendance. The process was applied to all students. The constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure. Once again, as someone who often gets in heated arguments supporting the ACLU's unpopular position on cases, I still have to say that this is one of the more reasonable search policies I've heard of. Which is, perhaps, part of why Bexley students respect their teachers at much higher rates than Franklin County as a whole.

Which, in turn, is why I don't grumble about things like having a deadline to fix the awful paint job that was done on our garage before we moved in. I hope y'all have a better excuse to enjoy your weekend outside.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fine. I'll write about the stripper bill.

My State Senator was the most quoted voice in opposition when the bill to regulate adult-oriented businesses, brought to the legislature after petitions were circulated by Citizens for Community Values, after the bill was voted upon in the senate. His opposition mainly centered upon the continuing erosion of home-rule and the ability of communities to determine community standards. That's a defensible position to take, and I made sure to mention my support of Mr. Goodman's willingness to do the politically unpopular.

I have to admit, I'm still persuadable on the issue of how much home rule is most appropriate for Ohio's local governments. Although I tend to come down on the side of communities, I can imagine situations where doing so might make me uncomfortable. So, it's kind of a cop-out for me to dismiss all encroachments on home rule out of hand simply because they are encroachments on home rule.

I also have to admit that although I'm pretty damn strident in defense of the First Amendment, I have a difficult time making the case that prohibiting lap dancing is an encroachment on free speech rights. What can you not effectively express from the stage?

Finally, there's a sort of constraint-of-commerce argument floating around out there, with folks bemoaning the job loss that might accompany this law. Pho made a related point, but as a liberal, I believe in things like the Minimum Wage, Environmental Protection, Workman's Compensation, Child Labor Laws, etc. There is a common good which sometimes outweighs the sacrifices in economic efficiency that come with regulating commerce.

So, what I'm left with after all of that, is whether or not the small 'd' democratic state of Ohio believes that the proposed regulations promote or defend a common good that outweighs the constraints on trade, expression, privacy, and liberty that the bill would be imposing. The supporters say yes, that the restrictions will decrease crime. The common good is safety.

To which I say bullshit. There is no evidence that crime depends on the distance between a dancer and a patron. There is no evidence that adult oriented businesses create crime, at best there is evidence that criminal activity is more common near adult-oriented businesses. I have yet to see evidence that there is more crime associated with bars that provide nude entertainment than with bars that provide other forms of live entertainment.

Some people don't like the idea of strippers. They don't like the idea of sexually themed entertainment. That's not good enough for a law, and they know it, so they use safety as the issue.

Most smoking bans, including Ohio's, are justified as protections for employees who are exposed to hazardous chemicals in their place of employment. I don't think any other similar workplace safety issue would have passed. Rather than simply not patronize smoking establishments, many people who could care less about workplace safety voted for the measure so that they would not have to avoid second-hand smoke. Many people think homosexuality is disgusting. That's not good enough to codify discrimination.

I don't like handguns. That's not good enough to overcome the second amendment.

I get really really sick of people looking to pass laws based on "I approve of/like this activity" vs. "I disapprove of/dislike this activity." Democracy has some ground rules, and if I may be permitted a moment of holier-than-thou pique, it would be nice if folks actually thought about that.